Researcher: Dr. Chris Lockhart
Region: Kunene Region, Namibia
The stated purposes of the proposed new park are to conserve this vast wilderness and its wildlife, while also serving to link the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Parks, thereby facilitating wildlife migrations and creating one of the largest conservation area complexes in the world.
State lands that will eventually form the proposed park comprise a large area, but do not currently effectively connect the Skeleton Coast with Etosha. Surrounding communal conservancy private lands – which make up the vast majority of the area – must also support the protective area system if the park is to be ecologically viable and serve as a functionally effective corridor. The following conservancies are particularly important: Torra, Sesfontein, Anabeb, Purros, Ehirovipuka, and Omatendeka.
The Namibian government has proposed a new national park in the Kunene Region, an area that represents one of the last true wildernesses remaining in southern Africa. The Kunene Regional Conservation Strategy is a long-term conservation strategy for the development and implementation of informed land management plans for the proposed People’s Park and its surrounding communal conservancies.
Overall project objectives include the following:
Securing improved land use certainty for conservation and regional connectivity through the completion and implementation of the Contractual Agreement, leading to the establishment of the Kunene People Park.
Ensuring land use within and in areas adjacent to the People Park complements regional conservation aims through the completion, harmonisation and implementation of Park, concession and conservancy management plans and conservation agreements.
Improving the capacity and capability of regional stakeholders for conservation planning and management.
A Kunene Regional Ecological Analysis (KREA) has been completed to provide a science-based decision-making tool to assist the land management planning activities. By assimilating all base data on landscape, species, resource and human use variables, the KREA quantifies and maps ecological and social use values in order to identify priority core and connectivity areas that meet specified representation goals.
Objectives for 2009 include the following:
Complete first draft of conservancy land management plans with the community conservancies of Torra, Sesfontein, Anabeb, Purros, Ehirovipuka, and Omatendeka.
Obtain necessary approvals/permissions from Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Kunene Regional Government for all KREA-based land management plans (key meetings are being organised in the first half of 2009 in order to develop a framework to facilitate this process).
Under the Kunene Regional Conservation Strategy, development of conservancy land management plans will be achieved by working with the conservancy management committee members and Traditional Authorities in each conservancy resulting in draft management plans for each conservancy.
Annual Report 2011
The Namibian government has proposed a new national park in the Kunene Region, the stated purposes of which are to conserve this vast wilderness and its wildlife, while also linking the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park, thereby facilitating wildlife migrations and creating one of the largest conservation area complexes in the world. Surrounding communal conservancy private lands – which make up the vast majority of the area – must also support the protective area system if the park is to be ecologically viable and serve as a functionally effective corridor.
One of the main barriers towards achieving the overall purpose of the proposed park is the current state of land management plan/activities in the Kunene, which are non-existent, ad hoc, and/or rudimentary in nature, and are not informed by conservation science. In order to address these issues, Round River initiated the Kunene Regional Conservation Strategy in 2007. The Kunene Regional Conservation Strategy is a long-term and multifaceted programme with a particular emphasis on supporting the development and implementation of synchronised, scientifically informed land management plans for the proposed protected area system in the Kunene.
In 2010, Round River successfully developed summary land management zonation documents for 9 communal conservancies. These documents are in addition to the 5 developed in 2009, for a total of 14 land management zonation documents (our project area consists of a total of 15 communal conservancies). In addition, Round River successfully completed the mapping of all water features and wet/dry season grazing patterns for the entire project area. This extensive mapping effort provides the most detailed and up-to-date spatial description of water features and land use patterns for any area in the country.
In addition, Round River initiated an elephant monitoring project in the southern Kunene. This project targets a critical information gap regarding this important species, and provides information that will validate, refine, and broaden our regional ecological analysis. During the past year, we sampled the entire Huab River watershed, collecting over 500 elephant dung samples for DNA analysis to determine important genetic relationships and to contribute to our understanding of elephant movement/migration patterns.
In 2009, Round River successfully developed summary land management plans for five communal conservancies, including Torra, Purros, //Huab, Twyfelfontein-Uibasen, and Doro !Nawas. The plans for these conservancies were community-based and endorsed, and informed by current regional ecological analysis. Drawing on these documents as a basis for further work and refinement, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (through the Integrated Community Based Ecosystem Management Project) has proposed developing similar plans for all communal conservancies in Namibia.
In 2010, Round River will continue to support the Ministry of Environment and Tourism with this work.